#Change11 Traineeship Programs and Cynefin Framework based on Dave Snowden – Part 1

Jenny Mackness summarises in her post on the presentation by Dave Snowden.  I am impressed by Dave’s saying: “There are whole tracts of knowledge that can only be understood through interaction, e.g. through an apprenticeship model of education, which allows for imitation and failure, such as for London taxi drivers. Failure is key to human knowledge acquisition.” That sounds practical, as we have been adopting such an apprenticeship model of education here in Australia – with on-the-job training for the last 2 decades. To a great extent, I reckon it is one of the best ways of learning through practical hands on- deep down to earth learning.  The merits with such learning is that apprentices and trainees could actually follow through with the gaining of skills that they could apply on the jobs, reinforcing the experience, and thus allow for reflection of what works and what doesn’t in their particular fields.  This apprenticeship and traineeship on the job model of learning has also been highly valued as one of the situated learning - a model of learning where “Learning begins with people trying to solve problems.[4] When learning is problem based, people explore real life situations to find answers, or to solve the problems. Hung’s study focuses on how important being social is to learning. In believing that learning is social, Hung adds that learners who gravitate to communities with shared interests tend to benefit from the knowledge of those who are more knowledgeable than they are. He also says that these social experiences provide people with authentic experiences. When students are in these real-life situations they are compelled to learn. Hung concludes that taking a problem-based learning approach to designing curriculum carries students to a higher level of thinking.[4]

To what extent is the above claims valid? There are lots of problems waiting for us to solve, especially when one is at work, or studying in a course, or immersing in networks or communities, or in gaming, even having personal informal study, as part of the life-long or life-wide learning, or in the case of learning a particular skill as a hobby or interest.  For instance, if I want to learn how to play badminton, then I would likely try it myself, and watch others playing in the court, or watch some of the videos on Youtube, in order to understand some of the basic techniques, and thus could practice the skills when playing.  I could also share some of my experiences with others, or ask others for help, so as to improve my knowledge or skills.  As a disclosure, badminton is my favorite sport.  If one is learning how to cook, then he or she would likely watch some of the videos on cooking, checking with cookbooks on the recipes, and trying to cook different dishes at home.  However, would one become a chef just by doing that?  Not likely? I learnt that most chefs have acquired the skills through apprenticeship programs.

I just happened to discuss with the owner of the restaurant today, and he shared with me his experience as a chef before becoming an owner.  Surely, he learnt through immersion into the particular trade (as a chef), and so it is different from that of an amateur.  I like cooking too, but I could only do some very basic dishes, like fried rice, fried noodles, porridge or soup, but would never be able to achieve that level of mastery of the chef, without more expertise training and guidance.  To this end, I am impressed with Dave’s mention about the importance of training as a generalist, rather than a specialist, and that: “In universities we are training recipe book users and assessing whether they can reproduce the recipe. We are not training chefs who can achieve a huge amount without a recipe. Chefs have a mix of practical and theoretical wisdom and willingness to engage conceptually and theoretically with real world problems.” as cited by Jenny on Dave’s presentation.  So, it is important to have an open mindset in order to develop those expertise, likely through learning with more knowledgeable others, and or training on the job or workplace.  Is traineeship the solution then?

How about the effectiveness of traineeship model? The report states that: “The findings suggest that traineeships are an important pathway for female early school leavers. However, traineeships are poorly targeted if the target group is disadvantaged young people.”

There are concerns what traineeship program should be aiming for, whether it is more relating to provide avenues of training for those unemployed or disadvantaged people who would like to pursue a trade or the skills acquisition, both for new entrance and those currently employed on the job, for upgrading and/or recognising their skills.  This up-to-date report on traineeship provides the details with recommendations.

It has been revealed that most “trainees” could learn the skills on the job, and for those who are existing workers with years of experience (veterans in particular), what are necessary would be a reinforcement of their skills to ensure that they are kept up-to-date and so it is more aligned with recognition of their competency, though certain skills acquisition would surely happen with the introduction and application of new and emerging technology at work.  I reckon a simple to complicated scenarios would be sufficient for the “training” of most of these trainees.

For new entrance trainees, especially those early school leavers, or unemployed people, I could see the needs falling into a number of patterns, with a wide spectrum of skills.  For most of the early school leavers, their interests may lie more with the hands-on manual, technical or technological, administrative and clerical work, which may range from cooking and catering, hospitality and hotel work, office administration, warehousing, transport and distribution, freight forwarding, automobiles, mechanics, fitting and machining, performance arts, ICT, child care, nursing, finance and accounting, finance etc.  So, the emphasis here is on the skills for a particular trade or profession, though there are also strong emphasis on knowledge, where the trainees are expected to “acquire” such knowledge (like health and safety, legislation, company rules and regulations, procedures, products and services, and general knowledge on ICT and customer service) in order to perform the job to the standards required. I reckon the scenarios most likely fall into the simple (in majority) scenarios, where systems, processes and procedures would determine the best practice, and training would more likely be based on the supervision by their supervisors, or trainers, though institutional teaching and facilitation would also be incorporated to reinforce the knowledge and skills learnt through the job.  The challenge for  the training of disadvantaged or unemployed people is that most institutions would need to provide those on-the-job experience for them to actually practice the skills.  On some occasions, simulated working or virtual learning environments were introduced to augment the classroom training.   The use of authentic learning in a classroom setting may be a good alternative to solving this problem.

Are these skills and knowledge the same or different from the literacies cited in various reports?  See Keith’s post Here.

In this report by Apollo Research Institute:

Key Findings

We chose to highlight six drivers—big, disruptive shifts that are likely to reshape the landscape for organizations and workers. Although each driver is in itself important when thinking about the future, it is the confluence of several drivers working together that produces true disruptions. We then identified 10 skills that we believe will be vital for success in the workforce:

  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

I have been reflecting on the emphasis of skills sets and units of competency as defined in the “training packages” which are designed by the industry, for the industry.  To what extent are these units of competency embracing the above 10 skills?  Based on my experience and observation, and expectation from employers and trainees, I do think some of the skills mentioned could be “too remote” from their immediate work needs, and thus hard to be anchored at a traineeship or apprenticeship level.  However, it may be the future skills set for the “knowledge workers”, and these are all based on a raising of goal post, that the workers need to achieve.  Are these skills vital for success in the workforce?  May be those are the ideal skills for more advanced workers or managers.  Here I am not sure what it would translate into, when we are also emphasising literacy at work.

Are these 10 skills more aligned with higher order education and learning rather than the vocational education and training?

To what extent is such apprenticeship model effective in higher education?

I was also drawn into the concepts about creativity and education here where she says: “My understanding of the theory he follows is that humans react to cause and effect situations through simplistic, complicated, complex or chaotic thinking drawing on environmental cues, cultural nuances and/or past experiences while always dealing with uncertainty.”

Here is an extract from Youtube:

The Cynefin Framework is central to Cognitive Edge methods and tools. It allows executives to see things from new viewpoints, assimilate complex concepts, and address real-world problems and opportunities. Using the Cynefin framework can help executives sense which context they are in so that they can not only make better decisions but also avoid the problems that arise when their preferred management style causes them to make mistakes.

Cynefin, pronounced kuh-nev-in, is a Welsh word that signifies the multiple factors in our environment and our experience that influence us in ways we can never understand.

In this video, Dave Snowden introduces the Cynefin Framework with a brief explanation of its origin and evolution and a detailed discussion of its architecture and function. Details of Dave’s regular one-day seminars entitled “The Cynefin Seminar” can be found here http://cognitive-edge.com/cynefin-seminar.php .

In reflection, I found Dave’s Cynefin framework sound and rich with empirical evidences to support its proven success.  I have also reflected on how it relates to learning in a complex learning environment such as MOOC.

The challenges in applying this framework in real work setting could be:

(a) To what extent would executives be able to see things from new viewpoints, assimilate complex concepts, and address real-world problems and opportunities?  This is similar to some extent in asking people to learn in a complex network and be able to have an open mind to accept both views of agreement and those of dissent.  This is really easier said than done, especially when there are strong power elements inherent in open networks which could lessen the control exercised in a governed environment.   A balance between openness and constraints is often not easy to achieve.

(b) How to adapt the framework to  align with the cultures of institutions, in terms of vision and mission?  Given that most institutions have their own vision and mission, and their cultures at work, it is relatively challenging, to adopt a mindset different from the “mainstream” current cultures at work.  For instance, during the last decade, there has been an emphasis of risk management to ensure a proper governance at work and to determine the level of risk, and to mitigate risks which are high (requiring action by executive) as it has potential to be damaging to the organisation or project) or extreme (requiring immediate action, as it has potential to be devastating to the organisation or project).

(c) Is the framework responsive to changes in open/closed environment?  So, it is imperative to check the assumptions behind any motive to changes – when one considers the adoption of certain forms of work or learning from simple to complicated scenarios, or from complicated to complex scenarios.  One such example could be the complete change from a closed walled face-to-face teaching (which could be a complicated scenario) to a completely open virtual online teaching ( which could be a complex scenario).  The challenges with such change may be exponential when it is introduced to lower levels of teaching environment in schools like K-6, where privacy, personal security, safety and equity could be of great concern.  So, open education and learning would likely be highly governed and constrained in such cases.  Do this explain why some educators prefer home schooling, where there could still be some controls over the education and learning, especially for kids with special talents or needs?

To this end, Paul has summarised here on his understanding on the Complexity Model.

I will continue the exploration in Part 2 of a future post.

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2 thoughts on “#Change11 Traineeship Programs and Cynefin Framework based on Dave Snowden – Part 1

  1. Pingback: #Change11 Traineeship Programs and Cynefin Framework based on Dave Snowden – Part 1 | One Change a Day

  2. Pingback: Prior Learning Assessment | Learner Weblog

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